Five years ago at just nine years of age, a starry-eyed Pacha Light was handed her very first surfboard by Australian pro surfer Laura Enever. This moment in time kicked off a passion that would see Pacha go from keen beginner to Queensland’s top-ranked Under 16s female surfer in just 5 short years. Last year she undertook a marathon paddle to raise awareness for the campaign to have the Gold Coast to become the eighth World Surfing Reserve, a bid which was ultimately successful. Now with years of world travel most adults can only dream of, success on the circuit and and an ambassadorship with the Surfrider Foundation under her belt, this passionate environmentalist is all set to take on the planet at the World Surfing Games in Portugal. Natalie O’Driscoll recently gained an insight into the person behind the growing list of stellar achievements.
You must have been ecstatic when Burleigh to Snapper was named as the eighth World Surfing Reserve, given your campaign to raise awareness for it. Why is this title so important to our beaches?
Yeah – we could hardly believe it – to see everyone come on board in the last moments! The title helps protect this beautiful place for generations to come – it’s one more symbolic barrier to destruction and shortsighted development.
Have you surfed any other of the World Surfing Reserve breaks? If so, which ones, and how do they compare?
Not yet, but I hope to surf in them all! I’m looking forward to surfing in Manly for the Oz Open of surfing grom comp later this month!
What’s the next cause you would like to champion and raise awareness about?
We have to clean up the ocean and we have to stop dumping rubbish in it in the first place! If people realise we are part of the ocean maybe we’ll stop polluting it!
How do you juggle preparations for the World Surfing Games, pro junior circuit, your ambassador duties and schoolwork? Do you have strategies or rules in place about how to spend your time?
So far everything’s been pretty smooth.
I get most of my school work done at school – I’ve got great teachers and the technology makes it easy to study anywhere anytime. I usually surf every morning before school, and at school (I’m in the PBC surf excellence program). The years to come may be bit more stressful, but staying positive, having great family and sponsors support makes it all seem doable.
Do you have any other interests or hobbies that people might not know about?
We’re a pretty creative household, so there’s always singing, dancing and drawing going on! we have various musical instruments instead of a tv! Our family pet is a wild brumby named Ollie – he’s our family therapist!
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
It’s my dream to be in the world tour travelling the world meeting new people in new places and trying to do some good for the world!
Of all the travel experiences you have had, which one or ones have stood out?
Travelling and living in ‘third world’ countries has changed the way I see the world. And visitjng places like the Amazon and Borneo jungle have shown me just how amazing this planet is. But meeting the nomadic Penan tribal people probably had the biggest impact – they still know how to live peacefully and in harmony with the forest.
PHOTO CREDIT: Anja Light